With gas prices soaring, many people are wondering how far they can go on a full tank of gas.
Having this information can help car owners develop strategies for how to ration gas to save money.
The problem with determining how far your car can go on a full tank of gas is that it’s different for everyone.
Various factors can influence how far or how short your car can travel.
That said, there is a formula you can use to calculate the average number of miles that your car can go on a full tank of gas.
Here’s what you need to know about how far your car can travel when full of gas.
How Many Miles Does A Full Tank Of Gas Last?
On average, your car can travel 200 to 400 miles on a full tank of gas.
Three major variables influence how far your car can travel.
- Miles per gallon of your car
- Gas tank volume
- Highway versus city driving
The MPG of your car refers to the number of miles per gallon your car gets when driving on certain road types.
You can calculate this on your own or simply use the tool on fueleconomy.gov.
This website lists the MPG ratings of all cars and trucks made after 1984.
The gas tank volume is the amount of gas that your car can hold.
You can find this information in your owner’s manual.
If you have lost your manual, then you can also look for the information online or empty your car of gas, then fill it at a gas station while it’s empty until it’s full.
The gas pump will tell you how many gallons you filled which will give you an idea as to the size of the tank.
The final factor refers to whether you’re going to be driving your car on the highway or in the city.
This impacts the miles per gallon that you receive because you waste more gas in the city than you do on the highway.
With that information in mind, here’s the formula you can use to calculate how many miles your car can go on a full tank of gas.
How To Calculate How Many Miles Your Car Can Go On A Full Tank of Gas
There are a few steps involved in calculating the distance your car can travel on a full tank of gas.
In this example, we’ll say that our car has an MPG of 20 in the city and 25 on the highway.
We’ll also say that our car can hold 20 gallons of gas.
Finally, we’ll estimate that we’re going to drive 60% on the highway and 40% in the city on this tank of gas.
When calculating your own gas mileage, be sure to switch out the variables above with those listed, or estimated, for your car.
Step 1: Multiply City MPG by Estimated Percent Of Time
We stated that our car receives 20 miles per gallon in the city.
We also estimated that we would be driving the car 40% of the time with a tank of gas.
As such, we multiply 20 by 0.40 to get our average MPG in the city.
This comes out to 8 MPG.
Step 2: Multiply Highway MPG With Estimated Percent Of Time
We stated that our car receives 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
We also estimated that we would be driving the car 60% of the time with a tank of gas on the highway.
As such, we multiply 25 by 0.60 to get our average MPG on the highway.
That comes out to 15 MPG.
Step 3: Add Sums Together
We now need our average MPG.
We get this by adding the two sums together.
8 + 15 comes out to 23 MPG.
Step 4: Multiply Average MPG By Gas Tank Capacity
Now that we have an estimated MPG for the journey ahead, we can calculate how far our car can actually travel with a full tank of gas.
To do this, we take our average MPG and multiply it by the number of gallons our car can hold in its tank.
This comes out to 23 mpg times 20 gallons which equals 460 miles.
As such, we know that our car can travel 460 miles on a full tank of gas if we use 60% of it for highway driving and 40% of it for city driving.
If you know that you’re going to switch those percentages—for example, for one week, you might need to drive 50% highway and 50% city—then you can run the formula again to determine the number of miles your car will go.
What Influences How Far Your Car Can Travel On A Full Tank Of Gas?
While the formula above can give you a pretty good estimate of how far your car can travel on a full tank of gas, it isn’t exact.
That’s because there are tons of different factors that can either increase or decrease your fuel consumption.
Here are a few factors that can influence how far your car can go on a full tank of gas.
One of the biggest variables influencing your car’s ability to travel over a long distance efficiently is traffic.
Traffic affects both highway and city driving, though it is more common in the city.
If you need to drive during peak hours of traffic congestion, then you can expect to get fewer miles.
That’s because your car is still using fuel, albeit minimally, to run while you’re idling at a traffic light.
The longer you wait in traffic, the more fuel you’re wasting.
This can occur on the highway, too.
Traffic congestion can affect certain parts of the highway.
Construction zones and accidents can also cause delays.
While city traffic is something you can usually expect, highway traffic isn’t always easy to predict.
As such, if anything crops up during your highway travels, then it could throw off the number of miles that you expect to get out of your car on a full tank of gas.
Traffic congestion plays an important role in determining how many miles your car can go on a tank of gas.
2. Road Conditions
The conditions of the road also determine how far your car can go on a full tank of gas.
If the road is slippery with water or ice, then you’re not going to be traveling as fast or efficiently.
You may drive slowly on some parts of the road and fast on others.
This can influence how much fuel you end up using to navigate the road.
This also goes for other road conditions like potholes.
When you encounter a pothole, you have to brake and drive carefully over it or around it.
That also ends up eating up some fuel.
Environmental factors can also impact how far you travel.
If it’s raining hard or blizzarding, for example, then you’re going to be traveling slower on the highway than you would normally.
Since you’re not traveling as efficiently as the car prefers, you’re going to end up using more fuel than you originally expected.
Certain road conditions and weather can influence how far your car can travel on a full tank of gas.
It may surprise you to know that even the outdoor temperature can influence how much gas you use in your car.
Your car requires fuel to operate the engine.
That means anything that relies on the engine to work also uses fuel to a degree.
One example is your heater and air conditioner.
The air conditioner can use up to 20% of your car’s fuel if it’s running.
The heater uses the engine’s heat to keep the cabin warm.
However, if you choose to use the defrost option, then this also engages the air conditioning system, which uses fuel.
As such, the temperature outside can influence the fuel efficiency of your car.
If the day is incredibly hot, for example, then you might turn on the air conditioner for some relief.
Since the AC forces the engine to use a bit more fuel, you’re going to travel a little less far than you would if you hadn’t run the AC.
The same goes for driving in the winter.
If you want to keep warm, then you might turn on the heater.
While this isn’t a problem, if you want your car to defrost the ice on your windshield for you, then it will start eating into your fuel.
If you want to get the most fuel out of your car, then you’ll need to keep the AC and defrost options off.
4. Tire Conditions
The condition of your tires also influences how much fuel you end up using.
New tires have great tread and are usually in great shape.
They don’t have any deformities caused by use that can hinder how well they grip the road.
Older tires do have these deformities.
Resting too long on a set of old tires, for example, can start to flatten them out.
Since they’re a bit flatter on one part of the tire, it requires more force to spin them.
Since it requires more force, it’s going to use more fuel.
Tire conditions can also impact how well the car performs on the road during certain conditions.
If the road is slippery, then tires with better tread will give you more efficiency.
If the tires are bald, then you won’t get as good a grip on the road.
This will slow you down when you try to accelerate on roads that are a bit slippery.
Having fresh tires is vital to getting the most fuel efficiency out of your car.
Tire conditions impact how many miles your car can go on a full tank of gas.
5. Gas Tank Size
One of the biggest factors that determine how many miles your car can travel on a full tank of gas is the size of your gas tank.
Cars with large gas tanks are going to be able to travel further.
They can simply hold more gas.
Smaller cars may not be able to travel as far if they have the same fuel efficiency as the car with the larger tank.
Since a car has a large gas tank, they have more reserves that allow them to travel longer distances.
If you want to get the most out of your car, then having one with a large gas tank with great fuel efficiency is the best option.
6. Oil Age
Determining when the last time you had an oil change was can also help you determine how far your car will travel on a full tank of gas.
Oil is an essential part of gas-powered cars.
They help keep the various parts lubricated which is essential to engine performance.
Without oil, the pistons and other parts start to become gummy.
They’re no longer able to move and can essentially make the engine implode.
Oil also plays an important part in keeping your engine cool.
Without it, your engine would overheat and catch fire.
Because oil is important for gas-powered cars, it also influences fuel efficiency.
Oil becomes thicker and less efficient as a lubricant as it ages.
While new technologies have upgraded oil over the years, it’s still something that car owners have to contend with every few years or every 10,000 miles.
When oil becomes thick, it no longer lubricates the various parts of the engine as well.
As such, the engine has to work harder to turn over those parts.
This means that it uses more fuel to run.
If it uses more fuel to run, then you’re going to get less fuel to push your car forward over longer distances.
Oil plays an important role in fuel efficiency which can determine how far your car travels on a full tank of gas.
7. Fuel Injectors And Air Filters
Some of the smallest parts of your car can also impact how far your car travels on a full tank of gas.
Fuel injectors have an important role in your car.
They determine how much and how often fuel enters your engine to power it.
Keeping them clean is vital to an efficiently-running car.
If they become dirty or stop working, then your engine won’t be able to receive the fuel it needs to work.
The fuel injector might end up wasting fuel, too, if it isn’t working properly.
Replacing them when they’re worn out or having them cleaned regularly can help ensure it continues to give your engine the fuel it needs.
Air filters are another part that can impact your car’s performance.
The air filter helps keep any irregularities in the fuel from entering your engine.
If the filter becomes full, then it can start to impede the flow of fuel, too.
That means your engine may not be getting enough fuel.
The car has to work harder, which means it expends more fuel, to operate.
Replacing an air filter can help make your car efficient again.
Both your fuel injectors and your air filter impact fuel efficiency which can determine how far your car travels on a full tank of gas.
You can use the formula above to calculate how many miles your car can travel on a full tank of gas.
Even so, it’s also important to know the various factors listed above that can impede your car’s fuel efficiency.
Avoiding some of these variables can help ensure your car travels as far as it can on a single tank of gas, saving you some money in the process.